Northampton Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder admits his side’s desire, rather than their accuracy, is winning them matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby at the moment after a 23-20 victory over Gloucester Rugby.
The hosts earned themselves a ten-point half-time advantage at Franklin’s Gardens after Louis Picamoles’ powerful try-scoring effort and eight points from the boot of Stephen Myler – which took him past 1500 Aviva Premiership Rugby points.
Gloucester however would not lie down with Jacob Rowan and Charlie Sharples finishing well to give the Cherry & Whites a second-half lead, but up popped replacement scrum-half Tom Kessell to burrow over the whitewash for what proved to be a game-winning score.
Saints move up to fifth with the rest of the Aviva Premiership Rugby’s Round 7 fixtures to come, but having not yet fired on all cylinders in the league and now heading into the beginning of their Anglo-Welsh Cup campaign next week, Mallinder insists he is just about satisfied.
“It’s always going to be tough in competitive sport as you have your ups and your downs, and when you are on a roll it’s magnificent,” he said.
— Northampton Saints (@SaintsRugby) October 28, 2016
“But when you’re not playing so well it’s hard for the players and hard for the coaches, and you’ve got to come out, respond, and get better – and we’ve won the game today.
“That was a real positive step, but without a doubt it was a nervy performance rather than a beautiful one. There is a desire there though and we’ve seen that throughout the season.
“If you look back to our earlier games, particularly at home, the desire is there but the accuracy needs to be worked on and improved.
“We got the important win today though and that moves us up the table, and we’ve got a couple of weeks now in a different competition which is a chance to give some of the younger lads and fringe players a bit of a chance.”
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) October 28, 2016
Meanwhile Mallinder’s counterpart David Humphreys was left rueing another missed chance after his side went down by less than a score for the third time this term.
The Cherry & Whites have also drawn two Aviva Premiership Rugby matches and as a result sit tenth in the standings, but Humphreys is confident that with the standard of rugby they are playing and a little more ruthlessness, Gloucester will soon turn narrow defeats into resounding victories.
He said: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result and I thought we did play some good rugby.
“We defended unbelievably again as we did down in Exeter, and we didn’t get the result we deserved, but at the end of the day you’ve got to congratulate Northampton for holding on.
“Too many penalties at the set piece ultimately cost us the game, but we’ve only had seven matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby so that’s just the first phase of the league over with.
“We need to sit down and look at those games, but when you look at how close they’ve all been, we’ve played some really good rugby at times and were the better team in patches tonight, but unfortunately we’ve fallen a bit short.”
Northampton Saints: Foden; Wilson, G Pisi (Tuala 78), Mallinder (Hutchinson 59), North; Myler, Dickson (Kessell 62); A Waller (E Waller 67), Haywood (Hartley 57), Brookes (Hill 59), Paterson (Ratuniyarawa 59), Day, Wood, Clark (Gibson 9), Picamoles
Gloucester Rugby: Hook; Sharples, Scott, Atkinson (Burns 70), May; Twelvetrees, Laidlaw (c); McAllister (Orr 64), Hibbard (Matu’u 70), Afoa, Savage, Galarza, Moriarty (Kvesic 64), Rowan, Morgan
Not used: Ma’afu, Latta, Heinz, Purdy
Northampton Saints 23
Tries: Picamoles, Kessell
Conversions: Myler 2
Penalties: Myler 3
Gloucester Rugby 20
Tries: Rowan, Sharples
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
Penalties: Laidlaw 2
Referee: Tom Foley